The Mooresville football team didn't win a game last season. But already, in coach Hal Capps first season, the Blue Devils have transformed into an I-Meck contender.
Capps and company, who have already beaten West Charlotte and Hopewell in the last month, are now taking aim at a second place finish behind unbeaten Mallard Creek, the No. 2 team in the state.
"This biggest turnaround we have made is in our attitude," said Capps. "We have learned to play together and care about each other. I think that has made a big difference in our program and translated into a lot of success. It feels good to be in the position we are in."
While Mooresville has turned their program around, North Meck has struggled to be consistent after losing a good portion of the football program to Hough High.
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But the Vikings don't like excuses and have fought their way into playoff contention with two weeks to go, but will have to pull off two upsets as they take on Mooresville and then archrival Hopewell in the regular season finale.
"We have preached all year long that you sometimes can't control results, but you can always control effort," said North Meck coach Mike Bradley. "We know we will be the underdogs the last few weeks, but we feel like if we don't beat ourselves, we could have a good shot."
North Mecklenburg (3-5)
North Meck has a lot to play for down the stretch after losing to Vance 33-0 last Friday.
Senior quarterback Mike Irvin is one of those players with something to prove, as he has been sat down during games because of his turnover struggles. If he can manage the game and avoid costly turnovers, the Vikings (5-3, 2-3 in the I-Meck) should be in better shape.
Irvin would also benefit from a strong running game, which has been non-existent in the team's losses, and a big factor in the Vikings' wins. Garrison Dark has been North Meck's most consistent runner while Jalen McCullough and Terrence Clyburn contribute.
The passing game has shown a little more life with wideouts Rashaan Brown, Clyburn and Tre Long providing big-play potential.
The Viking defense, which has been the most solid side of the ball this season, could also chip in by forcing turnovers.
Mooresville is one of the hotter teams in the area right now, so beating the Blue Devils won't be easy. If North Meck can establish a running game, they should be able to make this a game. If the Vikings become one-dimensional, they could be in for a long night.
Mooresville started quick this season, jumping to a 3-0 mark before running into two of the better teams in the state in Mallard Creek and West Rowan. Add Vance to that equation and then Blue Devils had a tough stretch midway through the season.
But Mooresville responded, winning three straight, including victories against Hopewell and West Charlotte.
Senior quarterback Patrick O'Brien is the catalyst for the offense, as he has passed for over 1,000 and 10 touchdowns.
O'Brien's life gets a lot easier when Brandon Jones is running the ball effectively, and they hope to do that against North Meck. But the Blue Devils will certainly air it out and when they do O'Brien has several big-time targets in Shawn Lester and Kyle Haslett.
On the defensive side of the ball, senior defensive back Tyler Threat leads a solid group with 68 tackles and three interceptions. But there is balance with junior linebacker Scott Markofski alongside classmates Deandre Coleman and Charles Wilkes, who terrorized opposing quarterbacks, combining for 16 sacks. Neither team is an offensive machine, but Mooresville's football team has had the better season. If the Blue Devils (6-3, 3-2) get rolling early, North Meck could have a hard time keeping up on the scoreboard.